Fnac Darty, also the mother company of Vanden Borre, is satisfied with 2020: despite two lockdowns, turnover remained more or less stable. In the fourth quarter, there was even growth of nearly 10 per cent. E-commerce accounted for some 30 per cent of total sales.
E-commerce up by 55 per cent
Electronics and bookseller Fnac Darty achieved a turnover of 7.49 billion euros in 2020, a minuscule increase of 0.6% per cent compared to 2019 on a like-for-like basis. These numbers are according to the preliminary annual results of the group, which also includes the Vanden Borre concept in the Benelux.
Given the brick-and-mortar stores in most countries had to close twice, CEO Enrique Martinez considers this performance "very good". Online sales rose by 55 per cent and thus accounted for 29 per cent of total group turnover. Across the year, the retailer gained 5 million new active online customers.
Fewer impulse purchases online
The fourth quarter, in particular, was positive, with exceptionally strong growth on "shopping days" such as Black Friday and the lead-up to Christmas. Sales rose by 9.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis, thanks to solid online sales growth of almost 70 per cent. Click & collect increased by nearly 40 per cent in the fourth quarter. Customers mainly bought domestic appliances and technical products, such as electronics linked to teleworking and televisions.
The coronavirus pandemic did nibble at the company's margins. For 2020, the current gross profit is estimated at 210 million euros, with a gross margin of 29.2 per cent. Down 120 basis points from last year, mainly because fewer high-margin products got sold. This decrease is due to the loss of store traffic. Fnac Darty refers to 'editorial goods' (books and press) that often get bought impulsively. Also, the collapse of ticket sales contributed.
Slower recovery in Spain
There is, however, a striking difference between firstly, the France-Switzerland and Belgium-Luxembourg zones, which recorded comparable sales growth of almost 2% and 1% respectively, and secondly, the Iberian Peninsula, which continues to suffer from severe coronavirus restrictions and a less favourable macroeconomic environment. Comparable sales fell by around 11 per cent during the year, and in that region, Fnac Darty also expects a slower recovery in 2021.
Overall, the French retail group expects to see a slight growth this year, both in turnover and operating profit, but only in the second semester. The first half of the year will still be disrupted by the health crisis, it is said. The final results for 2020 will be published on 23 February.